Spinal Fusions



A spinal fusion is surgery to weld together two or more vertebrae so they heal into one strong bone. Vertebrae are the bones that make up the spine.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • A buildup of blood in the wound
  • Poor fusion of the bones
  • Nerve damage causing pain, numbness, tingling, or paralysis
  • Problems with bowel or bladder function
  • Injury to other structures, such as the nerves and blood vessels

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or obesity



This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.

a (Spinal Arthrodesis; Vertebral Interbody Fusion; Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion; Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion; Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion; Posterolateral Lumbar Fusion )


Know Your Back—North American Spine Society https://www.knowyourback.org 

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons https://www.orthoinfo.org 


Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://coa-aco.org 

When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://whenithurtstomove.org 


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Chronic low back pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/chronic-low-back-pain. Accessed September 30, 2020.

Posterior lumbar interbody fusion and transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/spinal-fusion-plif-tlif. Accessed September 30, 2020.

Qaseem A, Wilt TJ, et al. Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2017 Apr 4;166(7):514-530.

Spinal fusion. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/spinal-fusion. Accessed September 30, 2020.

Spine surgery: Lumbar interbody fusion. Hospital for Special Surgery website. Available at: https://www.hss.edu/conditions%5Fspine-surgery-lumbar-interbody-fusion.asp#.VJMAvsAKA. Accessed September 30, 2020.